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Still Life with Fruit and Vegetables, 1625-35

Frans Snyders

Flemish, 1579-1657
Oil on canvas
68-1/4 x 101 in. (173.4 x 256.5 cm)
The Norton Simon Foundation
F.1973.16.P
© The Norton Simon Foundation

Not on view

Frans Snyders, a master of the Flemish Baroque still life, is renowned for his bold brushwork and monumental compositions. One of the themes of this painting, which likely depicts the larder of a fine house, is that of abundance—particularly as the idea relates to productivity and prosperity. Our first impression may be of a chaotic layering of produce—the fruits and vegetables on the table, in a bowl or basket, or on the ground. Closer inspection shows, however, in a manner that would be apparent to a 17th-century spectator, that the produce is arranged in a hierarchy reflecting value and rarity. Root vegetables are picturesquely arranged on the ground, whereas highly prized peas and asparagus are placed in the basket at right.

In this collaboration, Snyders painted the still-life elements, and his brother-in-law, the portrait painter Cornelis de Vos, painted the figures. The interaction of the boy and the woman through touch and gaze and the inclusion of live animals enhances the sense of animation. The painting certainly resonates with allusions to all five senses.

Prior to becoming part of the Norton Simon collections, this painting was one of four large market and larder scenes painted by Snyders and installed in the state dining room of the dukes of Newcastle at their estate in Clumber Park, Nottinghamshire.

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